There is more to Melt than grilled cheese

Melt's fried Oreos
Melt’s fried Oreos

Melt has been bringing decadent and unique grilled cheeses to the streets of Birmingham since 2011. Recently, the popular food truck decided to open a brick-and-mortar establishment in the Avondale community. The restaurant serves all of your food-truck favorites and much more, including desserts.

Any fan of fair food must add Melt’s fried Oreos to their list of top Birmingham eats. The crispy batter mixes with the warm Oreo to create an indulgent treat. Five to an order, they’re perfect to share!

 

Melt’s restaurant is located at 4105 4th Ave. S. in the Avondale community. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The food truck, also known as Matilda, is available for private parties, events and catering. Find more information at meltbham.com.

Sweet tooth still not satisfied? Keep an eye out for more Birmingham desserts featured in the next print publication of Exodus.

Check out this yummy recipe: Creamed Spinach Phyllo Cups!

Looking for a delicious recipe to cook for your next party or gathering? The experts at CookingLight.com suggest making Creamed Spinach Phyllo Cups. “These creamy and delicious Spinach Phyllo Cups are my go-to appetizer to serve at cocktail parties,” said Rebecca Longshore, assistant editor of CookingLight.com. “They look so elegant and yet they’re surprisingly simple to make. Arrange them on a beautiful platter and watch them disappear in minutes!”

What makes this recipe an ideal party food? Not only are these little spinach cups delicious, but they are the perfect finger-food! “In my opinion, bite-size foods and mini dishes look really classy at a party, and they’re really not much harder to make,” said Longshore.

Ready to cook?

Here’s what you’ll need:

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30 mini phyllo shells (such as Athens)

Cooking spray

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

2 (6-ounce) bags baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons whipping cream

3 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese

1/2 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, very thinly shaved

 

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Arrange phyllo shells in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly coat shells with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 4 minutes or until lightly browned and very crisp.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until fragrant but not browned, stirring frequently. Coarsely chop 1 bag of spinach. Add chopped spinach to pan; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing frequently. Chop remaining spinach; add to wilted spinach in pan. Cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing frequently. Sprinkle spinach mixture with salt; toss well. Stir in cream and cream cheese; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts and sauce is thoroughly heated. Remove pan from heat.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon spinach mixture into each shell. Top evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Einstein Bros Bagels opens in Samford Library

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A new Einstein Bros Bagels, along with a renovated seating area, opened last Friday in the Samford University library.

“This was part of our original plan with Samford, and the library location fits nicely with the population on that part of campus,” says Brent Bolton, general manager of Sodexo Campus Services at Samford. “We knew coming into our first year that Samford needed more retail, and the look and feel of Einstein’s was a great match.”

The newest food offering on campus presents a tasty array of breakfast and lunch foods to the campus body. A lengthy list of bagels and schmears ranging from apple cinnamon to spinach florentine, egg sandwiches and “darn good” coffee are the breakfast staples. Sandwiches, soups, salads and bagel dogs are available for lunch, and there are plenty of sweets for dessert as well.

Samford students will be able to use their Dining Dollars credited on their student ID cards at Einstein Bros.

Einstein Bros’ only other Birmingham location is inside the Learning Resource Center at UAB. The Colorado-based company has approximately 800 locations nationwide.

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“My first Tasty Turkey bagel was delicious, but it contained no Tasty Turkey,” Philip Copeland, associate professor and director of choral activities at Samford, recalls of his first Einstein Bros experience. “The staff was beautifully contrite, and my second Tasty Turkey was even more delicious and full of very Tasty Turkey. I loved hanging out in the library with a good meal in a cool place.”

It seems more dining expansions may be in store for the Samford community. “At this time, we are looking at possible options over in the Southern Progress Corporation area, since a portion of the Samford campus will be relocating to this area in the coming months,” Bolton says. “We are evaluating the needs of the campus and how best to accommodate those needs.”

For more information about Einstein Bros, including nutrition data, visit http://www.einsteinbros.com/.

Hours of operation:

  • Monday – Thursday – 7:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Friday – 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday – Closed
  • Sunday – 1 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Breakfast in Birmingham: Demetri’s Barbecue

Demetri’s in downtown Homewood is more than just barbeque.

While the restaurant is known for its pork sandwiches and ribs, it is possibly better known for its breakfast.

Yes, breakfast at a barbecue joint.

Demetri’s offers a variety of breakfast options including omelettes, traditional breakfast platters, huevos rancheros and a unique take on French toast.

If you visit on a weekday, you will run into professionals having business meetings over eggs and toast, sisters meeting for toast and Southern grits and retirees arguing about state politics over black coffee.

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The décor is typical of a barbecue restaurant, with wood-paneled walls and orange barstools. At breakfast, however, the setting and slight smell of smoke allude to storybook mornings in the country.

The specialty French toast at Demetri’s is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Even a small order begins a hefty portion of dense, thick-cut bread that is dipped in egg and coated in crushed cereal. The result is a crunchy crust and chewy center, topped with powdered sugar and, if you choose, maple syrup.

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Demetri’s is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

Birmingham has a lot to offer if it’s 8:00 a.m. and you are hungry. Join us as we explore the different options around town, and look for the print copy of Exodus in early December for the full list.

Recipe: Taco Soup

Whether you’re a college student or a parent to young children, you know life is hectic. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to make a delicious and slightly-nutritious dinner for either yourself or your family (cold pizza or mac and cheese just don’t cut it). Thankfully, there is a lovely appliance called a Crockpot. While there are a lot of Crockpot recipes out there, this one is my absolute favorite. It’s relatively cheap and super easy. Crockpot, meet Taco Soup. This yummy soup is packed with flavor, as well as protein and other beneficial nutrients.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Crockpot (of course)
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
1 can of Rotel
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 packet of Ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 can of chicken

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Step 1: Open and drain the chicken. Pour into the Crockpot. Use a fork to break apart the larger chunks.

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Step 2: Open and add each ingredient (kidney beans, corn, black beans, Rotel, diced tomatoes). DO NOT DRAIN.

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Step 3: Add the Ranch mix and taco seasoning.

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Step 4: Mix it together.

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Step 5: You can either cook it on high for four hours or low for eight hours. Stir occasionally.

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Step 6: Enjoy! Top with cheese and sour cream. Pair with corn bread or tortilla chips.

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By Abby Colella

10 things to do in Birmingham

Sometimes locals forget how much there is to do in Birmingham. If you ever have a day without any obligations, set it aside for exploring; get out into the Magic City and see all there is to see. Need suggestions? Let this be your guide.

1. Breakfast/brunch at Another Broken Egg

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This cozy restaurant is the perfect place for breakfast or brunch (depending on how early you want to start your day). The food is freshly made and you’ll enjoy the French country atmosphere. Another Broken Egg serves pancakes, omelets, French toast and many other breakfast choices, satisfying the hunger of every breakfast lover.

2. Either Birmingham Museum of Art…

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Even if art isn’t your thing (it’s not my thing), I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy the Birmingham Museum of Art. You can easily find yourself spending hours in this museum without even realizing it, admiring the more than 24,000 works of art. With one of the finest art collections in the Southeast, you’ll find paintings dating back to the early 13th century alongside intriguing modern art.

3. … or Birmingham Zoo

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The Birmingham Zoo is a great attraction for all ages. Feed giraffes, have birds drink out of the palm of your hand, enjoy a sea lion show or simply check out all 800 of the animals that call the Birmingham Zoo their home.

4. Lunch at Mr. P’s

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Mr. P’s is your classic deli shop. Meat is sliced in-store for delicious signature sandwiches made right in front of you. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is old-fashioned. A few favorites: the Blazer and the Fantastic Fred’s.

5. Picnic at Railroad Park

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Railroad Park is a beautiful space for residents and visitors of Birmingham to enjoy some fresh air in a city environment. I recommend getting your lunch to go, laying down a blanket on the green of Railroad Park and picnicking while taking in the amazing Birmingham skyline.

 

6. Either shopping in downtown Homewood…

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Downtown Homewood has much to offer in the shopping department. You’ll find locally-owned boutiques of all kinds. Downtown Homewood features stores offering children’s clothing, women and men’s apparel, accessories, home décor, maternity wear and so much more. Ambiance, pictured above, is a great example of the kind of shops you can find on this adorable strip.

 

7. … or Birmingham Botanical Gardens

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The Birmingham Botanical Gardens offers an escape from the city and a way to enjoy the outdoor air. Walk along the numerous gardens including the Crape Myrtle Garden, the Dunn Formal Rose Garden and the Asian Glade (pictured above) while enjoying seasonal flowers in the peaceful atmosphere.

 

8. Dinner at Little Donkey

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Little Donkey, which is located in downtown Homewood, is the place to go for fresh, unique Mexican food. From the chips and salsa to the slow-cooked meat, every food item is either bought locally or made from scratch in-house. The lively atmosphere and amazing food make for a great dining experience. (My personal favorite: La Taqueria with a side of Elote — corn on the cob with cotija cheese and ancho chili powder.)

 

9. Steel City Pops

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To cleanse your palate, stop by Steel City Pops, located conveniently next door to Little Donkey. With such a variety of unique flavors, there is something for everyone. Craving adventure? Try ginger wasabi. Want a classic? Chocolate is always available. All the pops are made fresh every day in the store with all-natural ingredients.
10. Visit the Vulcan

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To conclude your day in Birmingham, why not end it with a view? The Vulcan gives you an amazing perspective of the Magic City. Try to catch the sunset and watch the city transform from an urban metropolis to a sea of twinkling lights.
Using this guide, get out into your city. Explore and find things on your own. Birmingham is filled with many other great restaurants, attractions and places to shop. These are just a few fun and favorited places available to try.

By Abby Colella

Taylor Hicks: a Southern sound

Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks started singing before he could walk.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Hicks bought himself a harmonica at a local flea market when he was 16 years old and taught himself to play. He then taught himself guitar, then the organ and eventually began writing songs.

“Music is the common thread for me being an entertainer,” Hicks said.

His love for music and entertaining took him to Las Vegas in October of 2005 to audition for “American Idol.” With his enormous talent and the support of his hometown, as well as the entire nation, he went on to win the fifth season of “American Idol.”

“A lot of people love watching their hometown folks do well,” Hicks said. “When you get that opportunity you try to make the most of it and I’m very lucky to have that kind of support from my hometown.”

His childhood in Birmingham played an important role in the development of Hicks’ musical abilities. “I think growing up in Birmingham and being in the heart of Dixie, you pick up a lot of musical styles,” he said. With the influence of delta blues, gospel and country, Hicks had the opportunity to explore and learn about several genres. He also had the support of his family and friends. “Growing up in Birmingham, there were so many people who were supportive of me and my music,” Hicks said.

Even while making huge jumps in his entertainment career, Hicks still finds time to stay involved with the community of Birmingham. “I try to see my hometown people as much as I can,” he said.

Hicks is also the owner of Saw’s Juke Joint, an establishment that brings together great music and tasty BBQ. Saw’s Juke Joint is located in Mountain Brook and often features live music.

“I’m very thrilled to be a part of Saw’s Juke Joint,” Hicks said. “It’s a really neat thing to be a part of, because I think I’m hungry all the time.” Hicks enjoys throwing around culinary ideas for Saw’s and strives to stay involved with the musical end.

Hicks’s recommends that every newcomer to Birmingham catch a Baron’s game at the new field, get a beer and eat a hotdog. “Eat and watch baseball: the American pastime,” he said.

He also encourages visitors and natives alike to take advantage of the amazing food and atmosphere Birmingham has to offer. “We’ve come so far, as far as industry, the culinary arts and entertainment,” Hicks said.

Hicks’ personal favorite food spot: Sexton’s Seafood. “My family loves to go over to Sexton’s and get fresh fish so we can grill it,” he said. “Their crab dip is really good, too.”

In the end, it all comes down to faith for Hicks. “You have to have your ducks in a row upstairs as much as you have to have them in a row downstairs for you to gain a big break,” Hicks said. “I think God has carved out a path for me to be an entertainer.”

Hicks never hesitates to share where he came from. “I’m very blessed to be an Alabamian and even more blessed to be from Birmingham.”

By Abby Colella

Authenticity served fresh at La Paz

For those who have that constant hankering for top-notch queso and classic Mexican food, look for the neon lights in Crestline Village that point to La Paz.

La Paz caters to customers’ cravings for authentic plates such as fish tacos, “over the top fajitas,” Texas barbecue quesadillas and any other Mexican combo you can dream up. La Paz has introduced fresh twists to classic entrees that will fulfill your need for adventure.

La Paz is not only recognized for its delicious food assortments, but the eclectic, Latin American ambiance. Upon entering through the aged wooden door, it’s clear that La Paz is alive with vibrant and natural colors.

Families and neighbors of the restaurant have gathered here for more than two decades. Because La Paz is located in charming Crestline Village, visitors often come by foot and enjoy their meals on the outdoor patio or take it to go.

La Paz has been voted “Birmingham’s Best Mexican Restaurant” and continues to be a local favorite. The original La Paz opened in cityscape Atlanta in 1979. Although many locations have opened and closed since then, the Crestline location is treated as a village landmark that won’t be turning its lights off anytime soon.

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Photo by Stevi Sappenfield

Three Cheers for Otey’s Tavern

In Mountain Brook, Ala., multiple generations have grown up relying on Otey’s Tavern, not only for great food, but also for a charming and laid-back atmosphere.

Tucked away in Crestline Village for more than two decades, Otey’s Tavern is a restaurant and bar whose customer base is as varied as its menu. Loyal customers range from teenagers grabbing a bite after school, to moms gathering for lunch with their small children, to college students looking to relax when the sun goes down.

Otey’s serves a variety of appetizing foods such as award winning wings, fried chicken salad, classic burgers and the soup of the day.

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The tavern may be small in size, but its entertainment is vast. You can listen to live music from the best bands in the Birmingham area on Otey’s stage. Wednesdays at Otey’s are known for team trivia nights, which have become enticing and competitive for regulars. Occasionally, Otey’s even hosts block-style parties that attract larger crowds.

On March 16, Otey’s will co-host a St. Patrick’s Day party with About Town Magazine called “Shamrocks and Shenanigans,” featuring Seth Capper and The Cap Guns.

In no way does Otey’s consider itself fine dining, but instead a classic neighborhood hangout where everybody knows your name. Otey’s Tavern is more than a bar and more than a restaurant— it’s a staple of the Crestline community.

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Over Easy

IMG_3382From its delectable dishes to its chic, midcentury modern décor, Over Easy has many qualities that make it distinct from other dining establishments. A baby on the Birmingham restaurant scene, Over Easy celebrated its first birthday in November, but it has been a crowd-pleaser from the beginning.  Everyone from college students to members of weekly Bible studies file in daily for a fresh spin on breakfast food.

In addition to traditional omelets and pancakes, the menu also features innovative creations like the spinach, mushroom, and goat cheese “Easy Does It” Omelet; the cheesy, bell-peppered “Lumber Jack” Potatoes; a spicy breakfast burrito called “Huevos Rancheros”; the popular oatmeal pancakes; and Over Easy’s unique signature concoction, “Italian Eggs Benedict,” which substitutes a polenta cake for the traditional English muffin and an Italian pesto cream for Hollandaise sauce.

Over Easy also strives to serve the best ingredients, including organic milk and eggs, violet-hued blue corn grits and local produce, all offered at reasonable prices.

Over Easy is located at 358 Hollywood Blvd. and is open Tuesday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and weekends from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit www.eatovereasy.com or call (205) 639-1910 for more information, or stop by and savor the scrumptiousness yourself! Please see the coupon below and either print it out or show your Samford ID to receive a discount on your meal.